10 December 2015

COURT Re: payment notices. Was: New summons? Was: payment invoices. Was: Court hearing date?

I've been winning my court hearings over unpaid road tolls that have escalated into the thousands of dollars. 

My explanation is being accepted at each hearing:

I bought a car and the transfer of registration had my correct address on it. Vicroads did not update their records for my address, so I did not receive the toll way invoices throughout that year of registration. 

However, the saga to work all this out has been epic, and continues. While the court hearings are pretty straight forward, the administration around them is a nightmare! Incomprehensible, inconsistent and full of errors. If you don't keep on top of it and study each and every aspect, you easily come a cropper. 

Just a quick review of the timeline so far:

  1. March 2015: When I discover there might be a problem looming
  2. April 2015: I confirm there is a very big problem looming
  3. Starting to understand the extent of the problem
  4. Attempting to make the problem manageable
  5. Realising there very little I can do to make the problem manageable
  6. 30 August 2015: Dandenong Court hearing, explanation accepted, case dismissed.Ordered to pay original fees but not the escalated fines. Payment by monthly instalments is arranged
  7. 27 October 2015: Receive summons to Melbourne Court for another tollway, but this one in the Melbourne area. Email correspondence does not accept my attempts to have it reconsidered in light of the Dandenong hearing
  8. 7 December 2015: Melbourne Court hearing, explanation accepted, case dismissed. Ordered to pay $40 costs only! But not the original toll. Court administration of this hearing was very poor, see below. 
  9. 10 December 2015: Receive 2 payment notices in the mail. One relating to the Melbourne hearing on the 7 December, the other relating to an apparent hearing at Melbourne on 2 December that I knew nothing about!

Below is my latest email to the "customer assistance" of the Magistrates' Court of Victoria. [Don't you just love the corporate speak weaselling its way into every corner of the public service?]

Hello Customer Assistance,

This email has two parts and requires senior and experienced oversight:

  1. An account of my experience of very poor administration of a recent hearing.
  2. Clarification on payment notices, a probable error by the Court, possibly stemming from the poor administration.
  1. Poor administration
    1. I recently attended Melbourne Magistrates Court on the 7 December 2015, obeying a Summons received by mail on 27 October. 
    2. Please refer to past email correspondence where I sought clarification on this summons and was effectively advised to wait for further instructions
    3. When I presented my summons to the reception of the Melbourne Magistrates Court, the receptionist was not able to locate a corresponding briefing for a court hearing. She sent me to level 2 to clarify the matter
    4. The receptionist on Level 2 apparently corrected the Court's records and sent me to Court Room 17
    5. The Clerk in Courtroom 17 did not have my briefing. She sent me to Level 3 to check with the Prosecutors.
    6. A sergeant at Prosecution found my briefing and escorted me back to Courtroom 17 and assisted the Clerk and the Prosecutor in that court to locate my brief
    7. I sat in that court from 930 to 1230, my case apparently being the last heard this morning
    8. The magistrate accepted my explanation, being the same explanation I gave to the Dandenong Magistrates Court some months earlier for the same series of charges. The case was dismissed and I was instructed to pay an administration fee only.

  1. Payment notices
    1. Since the recent hearing on the 7 December, I have received 2 separate payment notices, on two different letterheads, for apparently 2 different hearings at Melbourne Court
      1. A white sheet with no insignias, but for a title "PAYMENT NOTICE". Referring to Case Number F14023394 and a date of hearing being 7 December 2015. Amount due: Costs of $40
      2. A blue sheet with Magistrates' Court Victoria, a title "STATEMENT OF FINES AND PENALTIES IMPOSED". Referring to a case number F13811262 and a date of hearing being 2 December 2015. Amount due: Total fines $20 + Costs of $40 = $60 total
    2. I did not receive a summons for a hearing on 2 December 2015, and I did not attend a hearing on that date either. What is this about?
In light of the extremely confusing process of having to deal with a grouping of same matters (unpaid toll-ways) across 2 separate courts; the poor administration at Melbourne Court that has frustrated my dealings with these matters; and the unexpected payment notice referring to a mysterious hearing on 2 December, I am most concerned that I will not see the end of these matters (all related to each other, explained and accepted to each magistrate that hears them) This is costing me a significant amount of time and inconvenience.

I request that you escalate my matter to the most senior and experienced administrator possible, to bring the Dandeong records together with the Melbourne records, and ensure that my cases are dealt with properly and reasonably. I would like to advise that my level of frustration on ALL aspects of these matters, starting with VicRoads and resulting in these cases that are being dismissed by the Magistrate, is now very high. A believe the bureaucratic handling here to be unreasonable and unjust. I am taking the time to write out these matters in this way in preparation for any possible further action on my part.
I hope you are able to help resolve these issues as thoroughly and quickly as possible.

Leigh Blackall 


Phillip Kahle said...

Did you get legal representation? Was the case dismissed after a hearing or did you elect to have the case thrown out?

Phillip Kahle said...

Hope the 2nd Dec case is just a mistaken date, and it's all over for you man.

Leigh Blackall said...

G'day Phillip, no representations, all by hearings. All along I've been thinking about how others deal with this. Someone on Facebook personified it with this:

Now picture yourself as a 22 year old Australian Aboriginal with outstanding warrants for fines for unpaid train tickets, circumstantial evidence pinpointing to a burglary on him/her, letters delivered never received, sitting the whole time in remand waiting for your case to be heard 5 months later

Phillip Kahle said...

Leigh, yep it's difficult for many as they haven't been taught at school how important law is. Many are also growing up without religion so they aren't being exposed to questions of dilemma and moral argument that has formed out social laws over time. It's only going to get worse it seems.